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Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

two-gentlemen-of-verona-small

Top Dog Theatre has produced an open air Shakespeare at Mona Vale every summer for 13 years, and we’ve seen them all.   This year’s production is “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, Shakespeare’s first play, which I’d never read.  I was glad I made the effort to download a synopsis beforehand.  Without that I might have had difficulty understanding just what was going on.  The cast did well, and the language was easily understood, but it was strange not to recognise famous lines as I usually can with Shakespeare.  The action was interspersed with familiar songs from the 1960s (which matched the costuming), and I wondered whether these had been added to make it all seem more familiar.

We went to a matinee performance and chose to sit in the shade, but it soon grew cold and windy.  During the interval a number of people moved to sunnier spots.

This is a rare opportunity to see one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known comedies, and definitely worthwhile.

“No folk we know like Desdemona
among these people of Verona.”

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Shakespeare

‘Shakespeare Live’ was an amazing treat.  This is the show that was staged at Stratford Upon Avon to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on 23 April, and it was filmed live.  It’s narrated by the adorable David Tennant, along with Catherine Tate who was his companion in Doctor Who.  The cast is totally star-studded, with many familiar names, more familiar faces, and some very talented people I’d never seen before.  As well as excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays there was wonderful ballet, music, and bits of other shows such as West Side Story, which have been inspired by Shakespeare’s plays.  There were too many highlights to be able to choose, though Ian McKellan is always a favourite.  The show lasted for more than two and a half hours, but never dragged.  My eyes are feeling tired because I was glued to the screen, and never thought to look away.  Surprisingly there were only seven people at the 2pm session.  Where were all the rest of you?  It’s showing at Sumner’s Hollywood, and at The Tannery, but only for a few more days, so you need to be quick.

“Shakespeare’s inspired so many shows
with all those words he did compose.”

 

 

 

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I love to see Shakespeare performed at any time, and there’s something special about seeing it outdoors.  This year’s open air Shakespeare at Mona Vale is “Hamlet”.  Tonight was the first performance, the audience was small (maybe 70) and it was cold, but well worthwhile!

Hamlet cast

Early scene

I was surprised to find that Horatio had had a sex change and become Horatia.  Later Guildenstern also appeared as a female.  I suppose this is payback for all the Elizabethan times when female parts were played by men.  “Hamlet” is probably the play with the most well-known lines, including ‘What a piece of work is man” made so familiar in “Hair”.  Last century when I was in the sixth form, we spent hours over Hamlet’s graveyard scene, but this performance had only one gravedigger and none of the business about whether Ophelia deserved Christian burial.

Ophelia's funeral procession

Ophelia’s funeral procession

They’d actually cut a few scenes, but the cast did very well, providing a most enjoyable evening’s entertainment.  I particularly relished the final scene with corpses dropping in all directions.

The season runs until 20 February.  Make sure you dress warmly.

“Some characters have changed their sex
and missing lines just may perplex.”

 

 

 

 

 

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“Macbeth” is a favourite play of mine, partly because there are so many well-known lines.  The annual outdoor Summer Shakespeare is a “must see”, but the last couple of weeks have been busy, and the only time we could go was last night’s final performance.  We arrived early, secured a prime spot and enjoyed a picnic tea amidst Mona Vale’s beautiful lawns and trees.  This was the first time I’ve actually seen an usher at this venue, and he was needed as we were urged to move closer and make room for the large audience.

An early scene

An early scene

The performance by Top Dog Theatre was very good.  To me Shakespeare always seems best in an unsophisticated setting like this.  There were no programmes available (they’d been sold out at previous performances), but I understand a number of the cast were from Riccarton High School’s Drama Department.

Macbeth with the witches

Macbeth with the witches

I loved the way the witches sang their incantations, and shielded departing corpses with their cloaks.  Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were excellent, but it was MacDuff’s (Dan Crossen’s) later scenes that seemed to me to be the very best.   If you’ve missed this great show make a note to keep an eye out for Top Dog’s Summer Shakespeare in 2016.

“Shakespeare is just the best bees knees
at Mona Vale amongst the trees.”

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“The Tempest” at Mona Vale is excellent entertainment for a summer evening.  Unsure about traffic and parking we arrived soon after 5 for the 6pm start, and parked inside Mona Vale, so had just a short walk carrying chairs and picnic.  The Mound Lawn there is the perfect venue for outdoor theatre.

"The Tempest" on the Mound Lawn

“The Tempest” on the Mound Lawn

I’m not familiar with “The Tempest”, having seen it only once before, many years ago.  I recognised only a few lines: “Where the bee sucks, there suck I”.  This cast did a great job, and I liked the fact it included a heavily pregnant Spirit.  Shakespeare at Mona Vale is an integral and cherished part of summer in Christchurch.

“The Tempest troupe did Shakespeare’s play
full justice on this summer’s day.”

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